"Thank you for all the planning, leading, and guidance the Magnolia Zen Center provided me and everyone at the retreat. I found that an amazing job was done to cultivate a safe space for meditation.
I really benefited from the structure of the retreat. The structure/routine created the opportunity for me to be present with each type of meditation practice and to not have to focus on everything else in my life.
I found it very hard to practice deep listening and mindful speaking. The speaking part from a place of ‘shin’ is very difficult and something that I will need to continue to practice and cultivate."
- Male participant, active US soldier
"2022 End-of-Year-Retreat was a stilling time filled with tons of personal insights and opportunities for me to go deeper into the practice of breath and becoming the witness of my own experience. Profoundly set the pace for 2023 Year.
During the retreat, it was hard for me to be vulnerable and allow my authentic self to be in the space. So often I am wearing a mask of who the world expects me to be and/or trying to fit in that I lose sight of my Truths, it is great to be in touch with all these aspects without judgment or rejection."
- Female participant, US Iraq War veteran
"Returning to the Magnolia Zen Center has a feeling like returning home. The place itself is welcoming and secure but more importantly it is the container that provides safety. I benefited from the period of practice to better see how to concentrate on the practice and ritual.
I had a hard time with being around others, particularly those new to the practice and less interested in following the instructions around noble silence. I also had a hard time with adhering to the instructions in the kitchen. These were good places to practice."
- Male participant, US Veteran of the war conflicts in the 80ties
"I touched deep and old feelings during the retreat. The safety of the community gave me the courage to face these emotions which I usually avoid when I sit by myself. I got a cold during the retreat with lots of coughing and feelings of weakness, so that I could not participate in full. At times I got angry with myself and was scolding at myself. I had to work with my tendency to think 'ALL or NOTHING'."
- Female participant from Germany
"I benefited so much from what I felt the best run retreat I have been to at the Magnolia Zen Center. The size of the group and the way all worked together was excellent. Food preparation and cook assignments worked smoothly with a wonderful variety of foods. What was hard for me was to not have another extra hour a day/or every other day for personal time and to manage my personal needs (personal hygiene, rest, contact with home if needed) within the allotted time."
-Male participant, US Veteran 1982-2016
"The principles and practices could not have been timelier in my life to address the crises that plague my life. The thing that was hard for me was that this gathering had to end which meant my return to a busy and hectic city life."
- Male participant, US Vietnam Veteran
"I benefited from the opportunity to look more deeply at myself, my conditioned ways of thinking and behaving, which can create a lot of suffering.
It was hard for me to stay focused as we transitioned out of the retreat."
- Female participant from the US
"Something that benefitted me in the retreat was coming into an active relationship with the objects that support my daily existence. My life feels so much better when I ensure that my area is clean—and that things are put in their proper places and ready for future use.
A challenge for me were the emotions that came up in an environment free of most of the distractions of the outside world. I wasn’t prepared for my suffering to show itself so clearly, and that was an intense experience."
- Male participant from the US